A sleep scientist in England just confirmed what we already knew: getting to work before 9 a.m. is torture.
“Staff should start at 10 a.m.,” Paul Kelley, an honorary clinical research fellow at Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, told attendees at the British Science Festival, The Telegraph reports.
“We’ve got a sleep-deprived society. It is hugely damaging on the body’s systems because you are affecting physical emotional and performance systems in the body,” he added.
Typically, when researchers talk about sleep deprivation and morning schedules, they’re studying children and adolescents. And indeed, the toll sleep deprivation takes on health is particularly taxing for adolescents and young adults, whose circadian rhythms aren’t aligned with a 9-to-5 schedule.
Adults older than 55, by contrast, may find early wake times less onerous because circadian rhythms shift forward as we age, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
The vast majority of the workforce doesn’t fall into that age range, however. Millennial workers between the ages of 18 and 34 make up the largest share of the American workforce, accounting for one in three employees, according to the Pew Research Center.
For those affected, sleep deprivation can cause health problems including depression, an increased risk of substance abuse, and a higher risk of obesity.
What’s more, not getting enough sleep can occasionally be fatal: Teens who are sleep deprived, for example, are more likely to get into car accidents on their way to school than their well-rested classmates, part of the reason many schools are examining the benefits of later start times.
But this sleep deprivation isn’t just an issues for kids and teens or regular office workers, according to Kelley. It extends to all institutions, including hospitals and prisons. “They wake up people and give people food they don’t want,” he said.
These populations, Kelly said, are more “biddable” if they are suffering from sleep deprivation. “You’re totally out of it,” he explained, according to The Telegraph. “Sleep deprivation is a torture.”